(Harrowing artwork by Gavin Mackey)
Smash players are nerds. There’s no way around it. Despite the fact that Mango has tattoos and Phil and HMW make vaguely intelligible NBA references, we are, collectively, a grotesque mass of marijuana-scented manflesh that was birthed in the Internet’s deepest cesspools of depravity. Even as you read these words, the eldritch horror known only as “Melee” is slowly wrapping its pale and rubbery folds around the world’s CRTs, its single-minded purpose to fulfill a deviant cartoon fantasy.
Think of the usual suspects at a medium-sized local: a Marth player who knows more digits of pi than the rest of the room combined, a cluster of guys in a rotation with the people they drove in with on the setup they brought themselves, and a lightly mustachioed high school kid who claims he’s way better when he’s “in flow.” For better or worse, even the most socially inept poindexter can find asylum at the nearest Smash venue. And like many dorks, Melee players love it when people follow the rules. We have universal controller fixes, oligarchic “leadership panels,” and very civilized bathroom lines. We somehow think it’s good that the same five players have won every relevant tournament for the last six years, thus causing the game’s continued popularity to rest solely upon their desire and ability to compete. We will form philosophical arguments about the legality of box-style controllers so strong that Socrates would have to have one of his boy-slaves drop Adderall in his hemlock to refute them. This faith in order and logic carries over to the game we play, too: it makes sense to us that inputting up-B makes you go up, that everyone has two jumps, and that extensive combo trees and a complex neutral are what make Melee beautiful. We like it when the characters we play fit into this mold. We like it when things make sense—when everything is fair.
And that, my friends, is why Jigglypuff sucks. Jigglypuff is an insult to the very core of what makes Melee fun, the antithesis of Mango vs. Lucky at The Big House 4, a powerful slap in the dick to anybody who has ever watched and comprehended the clip of aMSa landing a djc fair into utilt into jab reset into djc uair into jab reset into djc uair into djc uair into a tech roll punish with a djc uair into a fair into a tech roll punish with downsmash which takes a stock from Gucci at Battle Gateway 7. Everything that makes Melee beautiful disappears in a fart of pink smoke when a player picks Jigglypuff. Her horrid bair is both the duct tape and WD-40 of moves, so Puff mains will use it 90% of the time, evenly splitting the other 10% between adjusting their ballsacks and hitting you with a frame one move that kills at zero. There’s something so fundamentally exhausting about Jigglypuff’s repetitive neutral and jank factor that makes playing against her the Melee equivalent of giving blood, but without the apple juice or satisfaction of contributing to society. When you decide to main this winking fleshball, you inherently accept that you will become the King Midas of sodium chloride, giving up your right to take offense when people scoff and bitch at your patient back-airs and easy mode gimps. Even Mango was once seen as a villain for playing Puff, despite now being an irresistible sub-hoarding brand manager’s wet dream. Jigglypuff is a genderless, pink, shit-covered wrecking ball operated by this guy crashing into a Sistine Chapel made of Mona Lisas and first-edition Shakespeare folios. And if you’re confused by that metaphor, wrap your mind around this: Jigglypuff sucks because she’s in the wrong game. Jigglypuff is Sakurai’s obscene gesture towards the future: a Smash 4 character in Melee.
Think about the high-level Smash 4 you’ve watched. We’ve all seen some. Perhaps you caught the end of a Smash 4 top 8 while waiting for Melee to start, or you clicked on a Reddit Twitch clip. Maybe you accidentally found your way into a Smash 4 stream just as you fired up a dab the size of a Gobstopper and became too stoned to navigate elsewhere, subjecting yourself to hours of EE saying “right there.” The point is, playing Smash 4 at a high level means grinding through long stretches of neutral until you can land an explosive and extremely jank punish that takes your opponent’s stock outright.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? And yeah, you could argue that other Melee characters can be played this way, but at least other top tiers allow the player to be aggressive if they want to. Through some kind of dark magic, the act of approaching is still somehow campy when a Puff main does it. It takes longer for Puff to dash across Final Destination than it does for Eikelmann to click the “accept loss” button on Smashladder. I’ve seen Fox mains groan about how campy Jiggs is even as they platform camp and run away double laser, and I’ve seen crowds of spectators murmur in agreement. On the other hand, I’ve nearly fallen asleep while watching a Puff player hold his stick fully in and mash buttons like he’s playing two simultaneous copies of Marvel 2. It’s no mistake that Puff’s French/German crowd chant is a chorus of bored voices lifelessly chanting about dicks. Jigglypuff is cursed to forever approach but never engage, Zeno’s paradox in globular form. But when she finally does win neutral, fuck. If the other player is playing the matchup well, Jigglypuff will lose a dozen exchanges before landing a single killing blow, and if you think that’s hype, you’re either a Smash 4 player, a Puff main, or you play Ice Climbers. Note that Ice Climbers aren’t as abhorrent as Jigglypuff because they’re just not that good. If you play patiently against ICs, you can take out Nana and immediately nullify their ridiculous instakill factor. But no matter how much Jigglypuff gets her shit kicked in, she can always clutch it out. Always. To put this in relatable terms, if Melee was the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Jigglypuff would be Sauron, while Ice Climbers would be Saruman the White. Both are great forces of evil, but while Ice Climbers can be bested by powerful magicks, Jigglypuff can only be defeated if you toss her into Mount Doom.
The worst thing about the character being an embarrassing shitstain on Melee’s tighty-whities is that most Puff mains are in complete denial about it. Many of them will often attempt to justify their crimes against the game. “Puff is actually really bad,” they might say, ignoring the fact that a character cannot possibly be considered bad if someone can use that character to win multiple supermajors. “Fox fucks up Puff,” they whine, forgetting that Fox also fucks up every other character in the game. But these excuses pale in comparison to the greatest and most widespread Puff apologist slogan: “At least I don’t play Ice Climbers.” This is both dishonorable for throwing another bullshit character under the bus and disingenuous for the reasons outlined above. And yet, they chant this mantra as if it were a Vedic prayer, whispering it to themselves every night before entering a fitful and tortured slumber.
Most Jigglypuff mains’ ignorance about how annoying it is to play against them is rooted not in malice, but in neglect. The typical Puff main spends years hoping to get a single compliment beyond a mumbled “good game” from their opponent, accompanied by a limp fist bump, the wet glint of imminent tears, and the disappointed silence of the three spectators who all wanted to the other guy to win. The lack of props given to Puff mains is exacerbated by the endless circle-jerking of other top-tiers, as spectators shit a continuous stream of bricks at the most braindead Falco pillars, Fox shinespikes, and Falcon downthrow-knees. But beyond hanging onto every syllable of the occasional and halfhearted “nice rest,” these players have no choice but to internally generate their own hype, reminding themselves that everyone else is a plebeian who doesn’t understand the situational awareness necessary to hit clutch rests, who can’t appreciate that multibairing is just as dope as multishining. As a result, most Jigglypuff players are self-congratulatory jabronis who would write an entire humor piece as an elaborate excuse to include a link to their own combo video. This intense self-validation, paired with the typical Puff main’s lack of social awareness, clouds the mind of the Puff player and prevents him from seeing everyone’s smiles slowly droop into frowns when he enters the rotation.
If you read this article, please, share it with your region’s Puff main. Post it passive-aggressively in a group chat that your Puff-playing friend happens to be in. Print it out and tape it to your shirt next time you go to a tournament. These people need to be educated about how much their character sucks so that the healing process can begin—it’s not just a kindness, it’s your duty to make the world a better place. I dream of a world in which every Jigglypuff main has transcended his or her vulgar origins to main an honorable character, like Peach, Marth, or maybe, someday, Fox. But until the day that Jigglypuff is officially declared unkosher by the rabbinical council of Melee, we must all live in the shadow of the curséd orb.
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